According to a report published by the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), the CLEEN Foundation, the atmosphere in Bayelsa State is “tense and highly insecure” in the lead-up to the December 5th governorship poll.
It will be recalled that SaharaReporters published several stories recently concerning the tensions surrounding the governorship elections in Bayelsa State. These tensions included vitriolic rhetoric spewed by both the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Mr. Timipre Sylva and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Governor Seriake Dickson.
The report cites the State’s “history of violence” and “youth restiveness” as the two primary causes for the insecurity. In an effort to mitigate these factors, the report highlighted specific “hot spots for violence”. These areas included the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area (LGA), where several ex-militant leaders currently reside, and the Yenagoa LGA due to it being the State capital and, therefore, a desirable area to capture for any of the gubernatorial candidates and their supporters.
Despite these challenges the CLEEN Foundation noted several developments that are ameliorating the insecure situation. One encouraging development is the initiatives to sensitize both candidates and their supporters of the need for peaceful elections. In addition, the small voting population of Bayelsa State, only 663,748 Bayelsans are registered to vote, means that the opportunity for statewide violence is minimal. Finally, the efforts of the Inspector General of the Police (IGP) Solomon Arase mean that any violence could be stopped quickly.
The CLEEN Foundation concluded its report with recommendations for INEC, the media, and the police. Among these suggestions was the need for INEC to ensure secure transportation of ballots, especially votes cast in the coastal areas of the State. The media and civil society were encouraged to continue their efforts to sensitize the public to the need for a peaceful election. Finally, the report recommended that the police be deployed at the various “hot spots” previously highlighted.